Last year, the state of California was steps away from banning most uses of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) for pest management professionals.

Assembly Bill 1788 would have prohibited pesticides containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum or difethialone to reduce the poisoning of non- target wildlife. The bill was in response to studies that showed the detectable levels of SGARs in wildlife had not declined despite a consumer ban of the products since 2014.

Then in August 2019, AB 1788 was pulled from the state Senate Appropriations Committee due in part to a grassroots effort by the pest management industry. The bill was placed in a suspense file and was expected to be taken up again in 2020.

In anticipation of this, Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC) worked with California Assembly member Blanca Rubio to introduce AB 2373 in February 2020. The bill would have required starting July 1, 2021, that licensees complete a training course on the ecological impact of SGARs on wildlife with respect to primary and secondary poisoning. The hour-long mandatory course would be consistent with current licensing requirements and approved by the Structural Pest Control Board.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen with AB 1788 still sitting in Senate appropriations. We were also prepared to amend the (AB 2373) bill, depending on what occurred,” said Chris Reardon, PCOC executive vice president.

Well, COVID-19 occurred and now it’s unlikely that any bills will progress in the California legislature except ones dealing with the pandemic or budget, especially since the state now faces a budget deficit of more than $54 billion.

As such, Reardon said he expects AB 1788 to continue to sit in Senate Appropriations. “I think the focus is going to be on other things,” he said. AB 2373 likewise was pulled.

Still, anti-rodenticide groups aren’t expected to give up. In December 2019, the Center for Biological Diversity sent a notice to the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) of its intent to sue for violations of the Endangered Species Act in relation to the agencies’ regulation of SGARs.

California DPR began a formal re- evaluation of SGARs in March 2019. Reardon said he believes additional mitigation measures for SGARs will likely result from this, including best management practices emphasizing the use of SGARs as a last (not a first) resort.

What gets finalized in California could impact the industry nationwide as regulations enacted there often influence those passed in other states.

Stay tuned to PCT for developments.

The author is a frequent contributor to PCT magazine.